Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was highly regarded as one of the top NFL Draft-eligible quarterbacks in the Class of 2020 as he entered his junior season of college football. However, after a late-season hip injury, Tagovailoa’s football future has become a bit of a toss up, leaving fans and NFL executives wondering whether he will remain in school or declare for the 2020 NFL Draft.
The waiting with baited breath will come to an end Monday as Tagovailoa has announced a decision date for whether he will return to Alabama for his senior season or turn pro.
“I’ll be making my decision on the 6th..,” Tagovailoa wrote Wednesday night on Twitter. “God bless and Roll Tide.”
Now the question is whether Tagovailoa will stay or go. Should he return to the Tide, many believe it will cause a bit of a wave with other draft-eligible juniors similarly coming back to the team. If he chooses to continue his career in the NFL next season, his draft status remains a bit of an unknown. Originally projected to be a top two pick, would Tagovailoa still go among the first 10 or 15 selections, or will his hip injury (and history of ankle injuries) scare teams off from taking him that high?
A Heisman Trophy finalist in 2018 who was in the mix to win the award in 2019 after throwing for 2,840 yards, 33 touchdowns and just three interceptions in nine games, Tagoviloa saw his season cut short against Mississippi State on Nov. 16. Late in the first half, Tagovailoa was hit as he threw the ball outside the pocket and came down awkwardly. He suffered a dislocated hip and a posterior wall fracture, which required immediate surgery and subsequently ended his season.
Though his prognosis was deemed to be “excellent” by Alabama team orthopedic surgeon Dr. Lyle Cain, recovery from this injury can be arduous. There was hope that Tagovailoa will be able to resume athletic activity in three months and throwing the football in spring practice with a chance to play in 2020 whether it was in college or the NFL.
Tagovailoa burst onto the college football scene in the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship following the 2017 season when he replaced ineffective starter Jalen Hurts. He hit DeVonta Smith on second-and-26 for a 41-yard walk-off touchdown in overtime to top Georgia 26-23 and win the national title.
He followed that performance up by throwing for 3,966 yards, 43 touchdowns and six interceptions last year, leading the Tide to an SEC title and a berth in the 2019 CFP National Championship. However, Tagovailoa threw two interceptions in the 44-16 loss to Clemson that cost his team a chance at repeating as national champions.
Tagovailoa’s brother (Taulia Tagovailoa) and Paul Tyson are set to be redshirt freshmen on the Alabama roster next year. Coach Nick Saban also signed five-star dual-threat prospect Bryce Young during the early signing period.